Beds, Herts & Bucks

Stabbed police dog Finn named IFAW 'animal of the year'

PC Dave Wardell and Finn Image copyright Herts Police/Dave Wardell
Image caption PC Dave Wardell and Finn worked together for seven years

A police dog stabbed while protecting his handler from an armed suspect has been named animal of the year.

German shepherd Finn was left fighting for his life after being stabbed in Stevenage last year. Handler PC Dave Wardell sustained a minor hand injury.

The pair returned to duty 11 weeks later after a lengthy recovery.

The award was given by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) at a ceremony at the House of Lords.

PD (Police Dog) Finn and PC Wardell were attacked by a boy armed with a 30cm (12in) hunting knife in October 2016.

The wound came within an inch of the dog's heart and punctured a lung. Vets spent four hours saving his life.

Image copyright Gemma Wardell
Image caption The award was made by the International Fund for Animal Welfare
Image copyright Dave Wardell
Image caption Finn had to undergo surgery for his wounds but made a full recovery

A photograph of Finn's stomach wound, held together with 30 stitches, prompted an online campaign - championed by PC Wardell - for a change in the law regarding injuries to police support animals.

It became known as Finn's Law and culminated in a parliamentary debate which led to stricter sentencing guidelines.

Philip Mansbridge, UK director of IFAW, described Finn as a "remarkable dog" and said his heroics showed the "special relationships that can exist between dogs and people."

PC Wardell added he was "really blown away" by the award.

Finn retired from duty in March at the age of eight, and now lives with the Wardell family.

A 16-year-old boy was convicted of the attack in June.

Image caption Finn retired at the end of March and took his first seaside holiday

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